10 April 2012

Nobody Expects the Spanish Inquisition

For this year's A-Z challenge, I'm posting juicy tidbits of researchy goodness for your interest and edification. I intend to use these as story prompts for the terrifying writing challenge Story a Day in May. You may use them however you wish. 

I was going to write a post about the Inquisition, but all I could think about was this.



Now that that's out of my system:

The Inquisition - more properly, Inquisitions - were established in order to seek out and eliminate heretics - i.e., anyone who didn't fall in line with official church policy and political goals. When the Catholic Church formed the Medieval (and first) Inquisition, one of the main groups they targeted was the Cathars.

The Cathars followed a Gnostic model of belief, which held that there were, essentially, two Gods: a corrupt one that ruled over creation, and a benevolent one to whom we really owe our loyalty. (The first time I learned about this theological theory was by reading Philip K. Dick's Valis trilogy. I thought, well, that explains a lot.)

Rather than the seven Catholic sacraments (baptism, confirmation, eucharist, penance / confession, marriage, holy orders, anointing of the sick), the Cathars had only one: consolamentum, or consolation. A credente, or believer, would take consolamentum once, and become a "parfait" or Perfect. There were no do-overs, so the Parfait had to uphold the highest degree of behaviour and belief.

After years of persecution and outright warfare, the Cathars were finally massacred and rooted out by Inquisition forces.

Before the massacre at the Cathar stronghold of Montségur, a small number of Cathars escaped with something called le tresor cathar. No one knows what exactly this treasure actually was - some say it was the Holy Grail. Some researchers link the treasure to the sudden and inexplicable wealth of Bérenger Saunière, a 19th century priest.

(I realize this is a little bit more of a Cathar-ish post than an Inquisatorial one. *shrugs* I trust you'll recover eventually.)

Source

21 comments:

Kyra Lennon said...

Ha, I love Monty Python!

Amanda Heitler said...

Not the Catholic Church's finest hour by any means. No coincidence that the Cathars were rich, well defended and on the verge of forming their own state. Politics doesn't change, does it.

Traci Kenworth said...

Love Monty Python!!

L.G.Smith said...

Ha! The (surprising) arrival of the Inquisition must always be accompanied by diabolical laughter. Bwahahahaha...

Fantasy Writer Guy said...

Noooooooooooooooooooooobody expects the Spanishinquisition!

I loves the Monty Python! And I'm planning a clip of theirs for my K-Day if I can find one for the scene I have in mind.

Great post. I was not familiar with this story.

Michael Offutt, Tebow Cult Initiate said...

Gotta love Monty Python. The inquisition makes for an interesting time period to write stories in. One of my favorites is "The Name of the Rose".

Lisa said...

How interesting that you wrote about the Cathars today. I love MP, and I've actually been to Mont Segur. It's quite awesome to realize they could have held out forever if they hadn't been sabotaged. I too, find their history intriguing and am glad you wrote about it! Thanks for visiting my blog at celticadlx.blogspot.com. Oh, and thanks for leaving a comment and the link back to your blog cause it made it so easy to find you!

Karen Walker said...

Wasn't the Da Vinci Code based on this?
karen

Elizabeth Twist said...

Yay! It's so gratifying to see so many Python fans here.

Elizabeth Twist said...

It's crazy how much they don't change.

Elizabeth Twist said...

:)

Elizabeth Twist said...

..............hahahaha!!

Elizabeth Twist said...

Excellent. I'll look forward to K-Day. See if you can rustle up some pictures more grotesque than the elephantitis photo you posted earlier.

Elizabeth Twist said...

I just think the idea of an inquisitor confronting the accused is an interesting conflict situation. I'll have to research further before I can write about it, though.

Elizabeth Twist said...

I would love to travel to Mont Segur! Sounds like you know quite a bit about the history, Lisa. I might pick your brains a bit.

Elizabeth Twist said...

Hi Karen! My memory of The Da Vinci Code is fuzzy, but I think the main deal there was the Priory of Sion, a sort of mocked-up version of a heretical organization. (Dan Brown didn't do the mocking up - the Priory founder did when he kludged a fake history for them. What Dan Brown did do is claim the Priory of Sion was genuine in the preface to his novel.)

Again, it's been a while since I read the book. Because I consume a great deal of conspiracy theory as a hobby, I've mostly forgotten Dan Brown's account.

Libby said...

I keep hearing about gnostic gospels and have to admit, I'm pretty ignorant in that area. Looks like I have some reading to do...

Cathy Olliffe-Webster said...

My edification thanks you!

Elizabeth Twist said...

I have a copy of the Nag Hammadi Scriptures (the one edited by Meyer) in my TBR pile. They were discovered in a cave in 1945, and are the definitive source for Gnosticism.

If you're not into primary sources, I highly recommend starting with Philip K. Dick's VALIS, The Divine Invasion, and The Transmigration of Timothy Archer, which explain the Gnostic core concepts in a science fictiony way (sort of).

Elizabeth Twist said...

Ha! You're welcome, Cathy!

Jocelyn Rish said...

Most of this was completely outside the realm of my knowledge, so thank you for adding some knowledge to my day.

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